EastEnders is the recipient of the Jackie Forster Gay Times Honour: Impact in Media, TV and Entertainment.

From the first gay kiss in a British soap opera in 1986, EastEnders has consistently featured LGBTQ characters, in open and truthful storylines.

Watched by millions, EastEnders has brought LGBTQ issues and people into the national conversation.

Related: Recognise and reward: Introducing the Gay Times Honours 2017

“A few years ago I wrote a coming out scene between Johnny Carter telling his dad Mick, played by Danny Dyer, that he was gay,” explained scriptwriter Daran Little.

“I didn’t want to do it as an ordinary coming out scene. I wanted to do it so the father knew and was telling them that it was okay if he was gay.

“I wrote it that way because it was a conversation that I’d never had with my parents – especially not my father – and it’s a conversation that I could have wanted to have had.”

EastEnders was honoured at the National Portrait Gallery during the inaugural Gay Times Honours ceremony on 18 November, introduced to the stage by MNEK.

Jackie Forster was a founder member of the Gay Liberation Front; founded Sappho, one of the longest-running lesbian publications; and marched on the first gay pride in 1971.

She was a pioneer of queer politics and feminism, whose work had a huge impact on shaping the Lesbian Archive and Information Centre.

The Gay Times Honours recognise those who have had a tremendous impact on what it means for us to live openly and freely as LGBTQ people in modern Britain.

There’s much to be said about the enduring contributions of the individuals and organisations amplified by their inclusion in the Gay Times Honours, but celebrated queer writer and author Armistead Maupin perhaps sums it up best: ”The world changes in direct proportion to the number of people willing to be honest about their lives.

In a bid to highlight those who’ve paved the way for justice, visibility and equality, the nine Honours are named posthumously after LGBTQ trailblazers.

Created in close collaboration with Gay Times Curator, Gemma Rolls-Bentley, and the nine Honourees themselves, specially commissioned artworks were created to recognise and reflect on the contributions of the individuals, organisations and institutions being honoured.

We’d like to extend a special thank you to Gemma for the passion and enthusiasm she has brought to the Gay Times Honours.

The recipients of the Gay Times Honours 2017 were decided by an esteemed panel of educators, activists and creators who volunteered their time and who worked hard to ensure comprehensive representation of the LGBTQ experience across the shortlists and Honourees.

They included Simon Millson, Topher Campbell, Polly Shute, Dr. Seb Buckle, Jacqui Gavin, Jon Huggett, Simon Black, Philippa Drew CB, Ryan Butcher and James Frost.

The Gay Times Honours 2017 was hosted by Jinkx Monsoon an Freida Slaves to an invited LGBT+ audience.

More information on the Gay Times Honours can be found here